What's next to go? The cuts which will affect YOUR family

Children's centres, education schemes and even mortuary costs have been examined for cuts by Bucks County Council.

Thursday, 21st January 2016, 10:20 am
Updated Thursday, 21st January 2016, 10:24 am
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This week the council’s own budget scrutiny committee are considering a draft budget, which proposes slashing the money for a string of services.

These include children’s centres in ‘more affluent areas’, as well as mobile libraries, and home school transport.

A council spokesman said: “In terms of areas like children’s centres, the leader said that consideration will need to be given to whether children’s centres in affluent areas might be closed or possibly where more volunteer support may be generated.”

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He added: “Every area of spend is being examined to see if further savings can be made to achieve a balanced budget in February as the council is legally required to do.”

And this week council leader Martin Tett admitted that ‘optimistic’ forcasting of revenue last year has led to more cuts being required, even though the authority has proposed a 4% rise in council tax.

The savage savings drive has been prompted by the council’s government grant being slashed for the next financial year and then totally cut from 2018.

It is also struggling to keep costs under control in social services caused by a big increase in demand.

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‘Optimistic’ financial forecasting has contributed to a raft of proposed public service cuts a council leader claimed this week.

Bucks County Council leader Martin Tett made the comments while addressing this week’s scrutiny hearings into the draft budget.

The budget under discussion suggests that services including some children’s centres, subsidies for home school transport, non-statutory education improvement measures, and some library functions could be axed.

And the council has left no stone unturned in its swingeing cuts, even reviewing ways to pay less for mortuary services.

Pressure points for the council have included problems with children’s services, and changes following the department being branded inadequate by Ofsted, and a miscalculation in how much money could be made from pay and display car parking.

Mr Tett said: “The budget that we set last February has impacted on the budget this year.

“Last year we set a budget, I thought it was a good budget, but quite frankly it suffered significant pressures as the year went on.

“In particular, we felt the rate of referrals in children’s services which were far higher than predicted.

“Pressure on costs in adult services and a quite frankly optimistic forecast of income from transportation through things like pay and display parking put significant pressure on our budget during the year.

“About half way through that year we were predicting something like a £5-6million overspend.

“We could have taken that and said we will see what happens towards the end of the year, it will come right.

“But as a prudent authority I felt that this would not be an appropriate thing to do.

“So, we put on a fairly draconian nonessential expenses freeze halfway through the financial year.

“The good news is that the forecast £5million overspend has now come down to £1.4million.”

A county council spokesman said: “All supported transport provision is being examined through four pilot areas, including the Waddesdon area to discuss options with local stakeholders. Library savings are potentially considering a reduction in mobile libraries as part of their savings target. In areas like mortuary costs, it has been established that savings cannot be made which shows how all areas are being looked at, but not all can realise savings.

“Every area of spend is being examined to see if further savings can be made to achieve a balanced budget.”